April 29, 2020

Dear CrossWay Family,

All of us have been largely focused on our local and national situation for the last eight weeks. But just as the coronavirus has upended our daily lives, it has also changed life and ministry for every one of our Mission Partners. As we have had contact, it has been eye-opening hearing about the various conditions they are facing. At the same time we have been encouraged by their Christ-like examples. Let us share just a few stories.

Philippines – Arcy Caampued and her son, Paul, serve with the Pastoral Training Center (PTC) and its team of about ten pastors who normally travel the country teaching other pastors in grassroots communities who have no access to formal training. Not being able to travel right now, they focused on serving their congregations and community. Many in the surrounding villages are day laborers, living on what they make each day. With a general stay-at-home order in effect, many families were quickly running out of food. The PTC team quickly organized a “rice relief” plan, giving away rice stores the PTC had on hand. When the PTC rice reserves were running out, a CrossWay member started a social media fundraiser to buy more rice and allow the relief to continue. Their service to  the vulnerable in their community with their time and possessions is a great display of the generosity of Christ.

Albania – A similar story is unfolding with our Mission Partners in Albania where the quarantine is quite strict. Citizens must get approval from the government even to go to the grocery store. Travel by car is highly restricted. Jeff and Meredith realized their community needed help with food. With some funds from supporters like CrossWay they are helping their local church set up a food bank to meet the need.  They also saw that some church members cannot afford a data plan to watch the church’s livestreamed worship service. Our Partners are setting up a way to fund those families and bring the church together. Expressing need and receiving help is very counter-cultural there. They see the Lord breaking down walls and building loving connections in the church through this difficult time.

North Africa – Our Partners reported whole clinics being shut down and lots of doctors being in quarantine as the virus spread in their country. Borders were closed, yet their visa required them to exit the county to be officially renewed this month. After talking with friends and ministry associates for counsel, they decided to get a last-minute State Department flight back to the US. With kids in tow they endured 19 hours of travel by airplane, drove a car from Washington DC, and fulfilled their 14-day quarantine in the Midwest. Grandparents greeted them from the windows and brought them groceries. Interestingly, having church in the living room has been a normal routine of theirs for several years, regularly listening to our recorded sermons. Now they are overjoyed to have video too! As good as it is in some ways to be in the US, they long to return to their spiritual family and community in North Africa.

Our Mission Partners are asking for our prayers too:

Kenya – Online church is not an option for many churches and church members in Kenya. Many families are struggling financially without work. Paul and Rhoda Mbandi asked us to pray Psalm 91 with them for their vulnerable country. Enoch and Virginia Okode reminded us of Romans 12:12 “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer”.  They asked us to pray for their trust in God and for the ongoing health of Scott Christian University where they teach.

Brazil – The Salvianos asked prayer for Nelson’s wife, Marcia, and daughter, Camila, who both work at a hospital. There is much work to do, and they request our prayers for their health and safety.

Montreal, Parkside, Lebanon, Virginia, Budapest, Asia, NYC, Papua New Guinea, Madison, Strasbourg, Missouri, the Middle East – Each one has an interesting story to tell. Each is facing various troubles and seeing new opportunities for the gospel in their communities.  From college students to a New Guinea tribe to French Canadians, let’s pray that God would open hearts to the good news of Jesus in a fresh way.  Could we challenge each one of you to adopt one Mission Partner or Grant Partner and pray faithfully for them and their ministry in the month of May?

One other thing we want to share with you.  In recent days we’ve heard much in the news about various states beginning to “re-open.”  Our Governor’s current orders have our state continuing in a “safer-at-home” mode until May 26.  There is a possibility that could change in either direction, but in any case we need to be thinking about what it will look like when we are able to gather again. The “re-opening” will happen in stages and there will still need to be certain practices in place for a time so we’ll need to think through matters of distancing and size of gatherings.  There will be a host of smaller things we’ll need to consider as well, like communion, greeting, passing offering plates, how children’s ministry will happen, what about other mid-week gatherings, etc.  At this point we simply want you to know that the pastors and elders are giving focused attention to these questions.  Although it will necessarily be provisional, we plan to share with you the current status of our thinking and planning in next week’s letter.  We want to care for you well and we know this is very much on all of our minds.

We continue to pray for the peace of Christ to rule in all of our hearts.
With great affection,

Pastor Mike and Pastor Steve (for all the pastors and elders)

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